Free bottled water for Flint residents could end soon, but mayor not ready

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FLINT (WJRT) (12/6/2017) - A key official in Gov. Rick Snyder's administration indicated Wednesday evening that Flint's bottled water distribution could end in January.

But Flint Mayor Karen Weaver issued a statement saying she isn't ready to cut off the supply yet.

Weaver's office issued a press release late Wednesday after city and state officials met to discuss progress on Flint's recovery from the water emergency and the next steps, including ongoing water testing in Flint Community Schools.

During the meeting, Snyder's adviser Rich Baird told the group free bottled water distribution may end in January if results from tests taken from Flint's municipal water system in November and December are equal to or better than earlier test results.

The water tests are required by the federal government every six months to ensure Flint's water system remains in compliance with guidelines for lead and copper in the supply.

Weaver's office is still operating four points of distribution (PODS) sites, handing out up to five cases of bottled water per week to residents who believe they need it. The state of Michigan has been paying for the water.

"While I am glad that water quality in Flint continues to improve, as it relates to lead, I still have concerns about the PODs closing and free bottled water no longer being provided to Flint residents," Weaver said. "I need to hear from the medical and public health professionals on this issue first. This is a public health issue, and I am taking my lead, my direction, from the medical community."

She encouraged state officials to talk with medical professionals advising the city on the water emergency response before cutting off the supply of free bottled water.

"The health and well-being of the people of Flint is too important," Weaver said. "We must put them first."

Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for Snyder's office, issued a statement on Thursday morning saying Baird has asked the medical community advising the water emergency response to also work with state officials on the decision-making process.

Brown emphasized that the state hasn't made a final decision regarding whether to continue the bottled water supply in January. While ending bottled water distribution is a possibility, she said the governor's office will work with a range of advisers and stakeholders before deciding.

The number of PODS sites dropped from nine to four in September. Weaver has said she plans to continue bottled water distribution as long as necessary to meet public health needs.

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